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Fenny Compton Tunnel, site of
east of Fenny Compton, Warwickshire, UK
Fenny Compton Tunnel, site of
associated engineer
Samuel Simcock
date  1776
UK era  Georgian  |  category  Tunnel  |  reference  SP433525
ICE reference number  HEW 38
photo  PHEW
OK, it doesn't look like a tunnel but that's how it started out. Built to take the Oxford Canal under high ground, Fenny Compton Tunnel was opened out in two stages in the nineteenth century.
Work on the Oxford Canal, designed to link Coventry Canal to the River Thames at Oxford, began with the passing of an Act of Parliament in 1769. Its engineer was James Brindley. Construction began in Coventry and worked south, reaching Napton by August 1774. However, Brindley died in 1772 and his place was taken by Simcock. The next stretch, to Banbury, included the construction of a tunnel at Fenny Compton. The tunnel opened in 1776.
Fenny Compton Tunnel was 2.75m wide, 3.66m high and ran for a little over a kilometer. It wasn't very deep underground and had a number of wider sections to allow canal boats to pass each other. These were 4.87m wide. It also had rings mounted in the walls to help boatmen haul their craft through.
The Oxford Company bought the land over the tunnel in 1838 with the idea of opening it up. The first stage of this work started in 1838 and by 1840, they had removed several parts of the tunnel roof a section at each end and a short section in the centre, creating two separate tunnels, one 307m long and the other 413m long.
In 1865, the decision was made to opened out the rest of the tunnel. The southern end was open by 1868 and the northern by 1870. During the opening out works several bridges were constructed, including the cast iron roving bridge (shown in the photo) that carries the towpath across the canal, a bridge carrying the A423 Southam to Banbury road (recently rebuilt in reinforced concrete) and a rectangular wrought iron trough (now demolished) carrying a stream that fed Wormleighton Reservoir.
The canal now runs through a deep cutting and there is little evidence of the tunnel to be seen.
reference sources   CEH E&CBDCE

Fenny Compton Tunnel, site of